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Writing a biosecurity plan using NPIP audit principles

Quick facts

  • It is a best practice to have, maintain and use a site-specific, biosecurity plan, no matter the annual production size.
  • A site-specific biosecurity plan allows you to best fit individual farm needs.
  • Work on one biosecurity principle at a time to keep from getting too overwhelmed.
  • Employees, family members, peers or community members can help you write the plan. 

Why should you write a biosecurity plan?

The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Veterinary Services (USDA APHIS-VS) released a report of the 2015 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) event in August 2016. It revealed the highest risks for the subsequent spread of HPAI after the initial introductions appeared to be:

  • Workers and visitors who enter poultry buildings or had contact with poultry.
  • Shared equipment and shared crews.
  • Entry of wild birds into barns.
  • Procedures for disposal of dead birds.
  • Other biosecurity breaches.

As a result, avian industries came together to incorporate minimum biosecurity management principles into the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) including a biennial audit. Commercial operations need to have an NPIP biosecurity plan audited every other year to be eligible for indemnity should the U.S. have another HPAI event. A commercial producer is defined as having a minimum annual production of:

  • 100,000 broilers
  • 30,000 turkeys
  • 75,000 table eggs
  • 25,000 gamebirds

No matter your production size, it is best practice to have, maintain and use a site-specific operational biosecurity plan that is based on the NPIP biosecurity principles.

How to start writing a plan

There is no specific list of rules to create a plan, which allows biosecurity plans to best fit the individual needs of each farm. A successful biosecurity plan includes:

  • A description of the biosecurity culture you have on your farm.
  • Documentation of the steps you take to protect the health of your flock.

What is the biosecurity culture on your farm?

Biosecurity culture refers to the processes you feel are important to protecting the health of your flock and how they are implemented and enforced.

  • When writing your plan, your culture should reflect that it is of utmost importance to say what you do and do what you say.
  • Think about your biosecurity plan as a collection of standard operating procedures (SOP). Can a new employee read your biosecurity plan and have a reasonable understanding of your biosecurity expectations?
  • As you explain each biosecurity principle on your farm in your plan, thoroughly and honestly describe your everyday practices.
    • If you use a single line of separation at the farm office and switch to farm-specific boots only one time during the day, that’s what you need to write.
    • If you use a multiple-step Danish entry system, write the procedure involved with that.

You should also become familiar with the NPIP Biosecurity Principles Audit Guidelines. Use the blue-colored text on this document to help you write your biosecurity plan, by addressing the questions it asks.

Writing recommendations

  • Start with one principle at a time. Do not overwhelm your mind by completing the plan all at once.
  • Have somebody off-farm review it. Do they have a reasonable understanding of your expectations for biosecurity?
  • Communicate your plan to your employees and visitors.

Potential challenges

As a poultry or gamebird producer, you are an expert at producing your product. You may not be an expert at using a computer or writing biosecurity plans. This has been observed as a roadblock to writing a biosecurity plan.

  • Consider asking another farmworker to help you write out the biosecurity procedures.
  • Ask another family member, friend or community member to write while you explain your procedures.
  • You can ask an industry peer, Extension agent or educator or even a local librarian to help you write your biosecurity plan.
  • There are also several talk-to-text technologies you can use on your mobile device or computer to help you create a document as you talk.

If your annual production indicates you need to complete a biennial audit, connect with your NPIP official state agency (OSA) if they have not been in touch with you already. If you do not need to have an audit completed by the OSA, consider having your flock veterinarian or industry representative peer-review your plan on a bi-annual basis.

There are some samples of biosecurity plans available online to help get you started. When using templates such as these is it recommended to:

  • Keep all items that apply to the site.
  • Modify them by replacing blank spaces with information specific to the site.
  • Delete information that does not apply as well as all highlighted text.

Including additional information that best describes how this site meets each of the checklist items is encouraged.

NPIP certification and testing

The Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory (MPTL) in Willmar, performs all the testing required for Minnesota's National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) of the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MN BAH) officials at the MPTL serve as the Official State Agency for the administration of the NPIP in our state.

Staff and veterinarians at MPTL are happy to answer your questions related to NPIP certification and testing.

View the NPIP Biosecurity Plan Audit Training

Get started

Author: Abby Schuft, Extension poultry educator

Reviewed in 2023

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